AFL stars reprimanded over controversial Israel Folau posts

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan says Gary Ablett and Matthew Kennedy have been spoken to after ‘liking’ Israel Folau’s controversial social media post.

Geelong star Ablett and Carlton’s Kennedy both found themselves embroiled in the drama earlier this week when they appeared to show their support for the homophobic post.

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Speaking to 3AW Radio on Friday, McLachlan said both players have now ‘unliked’ the post, saying they didn’t fully understand what it was about.

“The thing to note about the two players is they both ‘unliked’ it,” McLachlan told Neil Mitchell.

“The feedback I’ve got is that those players have strong faith and it was almost an instinctive thing to like it without really understanding what that individual post was about.

Gary Ablett and Matthew Kennedy. Image: Getty
Gary Ablett and Matthew Kennedy. Image: Getty

“What I’d say is that everyone is entitled to their views and beliefs but our sport is one of acceptance and inclusion of all people and people need to be mindful of that.

“Everyone is really, really clear about how we see our game being for everyone and we want an inclusive environment at all times and our players are on board with that.”

McLachlan revealed the players’ individual clubs had spoken to them as well.

“I know that people have spoken to them, yes. Club people, and I’ve got feedback from our guys about those discussions,” McLachlan said.

“It’s a mature discussion to say we understand your faith is important to you and we are fully supportive of that but you need to be mindful that we have an inclusive environment and where there is the possibility for a conflict.”

Israel Folau in action for the Wallabies. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Israel Folau in action for the Wallabies. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Code of conduct panellists named

The panel for Folau’s code of conduct hearing has been confirmed, with John West QC the chair.

Rugby Australia’s Kate Eastman SC and Rugby Union Players’ Association representative John Boultbee AM are the other panellists as Folau fights to save his career.

The three-time John Eales Medallist requested the hearing, expected to take place next week, after being issued with a “high level” breach of contract notice from RA following a series of homophobic social media posts.

Given there are Easter public holidays on Friday and next Monday then Anzac Day next Thursday, it seems unlikely Folau’s hearing will be conducted until the following week.

with AAP